I’d another conversation yesterday with a church whose small group coaching system wasn’t working. Over the last few years I’ve gone to plenty of churches who are getting down this road, or tried to decrease it and are starting over. The issues have become so predictable that I couldn’t restrain myself from going into telling mode. “I’d like to guess,” I offered. “The coaches haven’t received any coach training, so they’re frustrated and don’t know what to do; and the little group leaders don’t wish to be coached simply because they don’t wish to be spied on.”
“Yeah, that’s more or less it.”
In my experience, they’re two of the biggest failure points for small group coaching systems. Generally what are the results could be the church (or a leader in it) gets worked up about coaching and dives rapidly into instituting a coaching system. Often existing overseers or successful group leaders are simply renamed “coaches” ;.There’s rarely a conventional training program or coaching qualification required of coaches, and I’ve yet to discover a church that screens people in any way for coaching aptitude. Generally, the ones chosen are available, faithful members who’ve successfully led a small group.
Once designated, these coaches are then assigned a number of leaders of existing small groups to work with. The coach’s first assignment is to call them up and announce which they will have a coach. As the roll-out of the coaching program has probably been mentioned and promoted in the little group system, usually none of the group leaders have ever worked with an instructor or even seen an instructor in action. So once they hear that the “coach” has been assigned in their mind, the questions begin:
Is this individual going to tell me how to run my small group? I’ve been doing fine without that, thank you!
Why did they assign me to the coach–I barely know her! Better check this out for some time before I share anything important.
Why are they putting these coaches over us at all? Do they think I’m screwing up? Will my coach report back to the little groups pastor everything I say?
Because they’ve no real-life image of what coaching actually seems like, once they hear “coach” they tend to think Counselor, or Mentor, or Supervisor, or even back to the senior school football coach who used to berate them at every practice. No surprise they’re suspicious with this new coaching system!
If that is essentially what your church does, the body is not produce any benefit results than you had been getting before you tried coaching. Coaching has great promise for improving small group ministry, but without seriously purchasing learning the coaching paradigm and the skills that make it work, exactly the same people who have exactly the same skills are likely to produce exactly the same results no real matter what you call it. One’s body n a life coach eeds some C.P.R.: Coach Training, Picturing Coaching and Resources for Coaches.
A good place to start changing things for the higher is Coach Training. Coaching runs on the completely different expertise than mentoring, counseling or small group leading. For your leaders to coach effectively, they need to learn the methods for helping people grow without telling them what to do: such things as how to create SMART goals, develop options, ask powerful questions, keep responsibility with the best choice, generate committed action steps, and provide healthy, encouraging feedback and accountability. To coach effectively, your leaders need structured training and practice times to create competency in these skills.